On a day to day basis, I don’t ever wish that my fluff ball becomes aggressive since she’s already an energized handful. However, there are certain moments where I truly wish she would be more territorial.
The story I’m about to tell is nothing new, and I know for a fact that it has happened to pretty much every single girl I know.
Kimchi and I are walking down towards the park for her pre-dinner poop when a guy on a bike (we’re walking along the bike path) slows down enough to say ‘oh wow that’s a beautiful dog’. Mind you, she’s freshly shaved and looks like a cross between an old grumpy man with a mustache and a large rat… Nothing too beautiful in my opinion, but that’s just because I like her at her fluffiest.
Anyways, I say “thank you”, smile, and continue minding my business: coaxing Kimchi to poop. A few steps later, I feel and see a shadow of a cyclist come up behind me fairly close, so I move us out of the way, only to realize it’s the same guy. He stops next to us and starts rambling about how he just had to come back and ask me about my dog and if we rescued her or purchased. This is actually something we get asked a lot, since Kimchi is a cross-breed, many people assume she’s a rescue. Nothing seemed too out of the ordinary, however I was a little on edge since I don’t ever like being accosted by strangers.
It didn’t take too long before the conversation shifted from my dog to my person. In all honesty, I can’t really remember what made the conversation shift, but it went straight to my tattoos and my hair… something about if I identified as “punk”… to which my answer was “uhm no, just someone who gets hot in the summer so I keep my head shaved, and instead of displaying art on my walls, I choose to do so on my body”. From then on, I get an earful about how wonderful Canada and Americans are, how we are much more individualistic than Europeans/French who, according to this particular man, are much more collective, and it is quite uncommon to see someone, especially a woman, be as liberal with their style.
I tried, awkwardly, to laugh it off and to explain that yes, I get asked quite a lot about my career choices, if I’m a hairdresser or in the entertainment business, and that I sometimes get looked at a little weirdly in the academic setting, especially by professors who still cant believe that I’m doing my PhD. Insert another compliment about how the look suits me and how I look quite pretty and that he finds it refreshing to see women be so liberal with their looks here in Canada.
Thinking that was it, I start fussing over Kimchi, who’s happily chewing on sticks at my feet… I’m yelling at her, inside my head, you silly dog, can’t you see this is awkward enough… can’t you just take a shit so I can excuse myself from this awkward mess…at that exact moment, she just looked up at me, stick dangling out of her mouth, as if saying you talking to me!?
Having shifted the conversation towards me, the man proceeds to ask me about what I do here in Montreal, since he had previously mentioned he had moved here two years ago, after 40 years in France. I quickly inform him I’m doing my PhD, and it was because of school and my fiancée’s work that we moved here. Now, to clarify, we were having this discussion in French and when I said my fiancée, the adjectives and pronouns used clearly indicated that I’m referring to a woman. Here is where the fun begins.
Man: Oh! Your fiancée is a woman?
Me: uhm, yes.
Man: Wow! I clearly didn’t see that coming! Mind you, I love love and I am someone who is quite open to life, so congratulations!
Me: uhm, thanks.
Man: You know, you can just tell me if this is uncomfortable, or if it’s too indiscreet, or if I’m asking too much.
Me:… Well.. you know… it’s ok (IF YOU HAVE TO SAY SO, ITS BECAUSE IT IS, YOU A**********)
Man: If you don’t mind me asking, how did you find it when I came up to you to talk
Me:… well… ( its 5:30pm on a beautiful day, loads of people around me, so if ever I feel threatened, I just need to scream), I don’t usually talk to people when I’m doing my thing, because I’m clearly doing my thing, example, walking my dog hoping she poops. And you know, with the political climate and everything, I’m just more on edge.
Man: What do you mean political climate..
Me: Well, being harassed, everything with Donald Trump, the #metoo movement… I don’t feel as bad anymore for sticking up for myself and you know, I feel like women here are more prone to do so now a days, so sometimes it feels a little awkward being stopped by strangers.
Man: You see, I’m a very social person and I just had to stop and talk to you to tell you that you look great, that you look cool and all of that.
Me: ah. I see.
Man: So if it’s not too indiscreet, how/when did you know? Have you ever been with a man? How are your parents with it?
Me: Well, I’ve known since I was 11, and yes my parents are fine with it and well, I have but it’s not for me…
Man: But I mean, if you’ve been with men, if you don’t mind me asking, why with a woman now? And if it’s not too much, how old are you now?
Me:….. uhm 27 and due to that and having lived a little, men aren’t my cup of tea..
Man: Oh wow, 27? You look so much younger…So, how do you hit on a woman… Is it like when men hit on women?
Me: Well, that’s a really sexist question, if I’m being honest, since you asked me to be honest.
Man: ME?! SEXIST?! No no no no no, you misunderstand me, I am not sexist, I am as open as they get, my questions aren’t meant to offend.
Me: Well, I don’t usually hit on women, because I don’t like to objectify them… so to be honest, I’ve never hit on one, I’ve usually just met them from mutual friends and we became closer due to mutual interests….
Man: ahh well you see, you’ve never needed to hit on them and I know why…
Me: uhm how?
Man: Well, it’s obvious… you’re beautiful! Clearly, you’d get hit on… see, had I not known, I would have clearly asked you out for a coffee since I find you attractive.
Me: oh well….uhm thanks… but uhm the whole idea of hitting on someone makes me uncomfortable you see, it’s just not who I am as a person.
Man: So now that you’re with a woman, if there was an attractive woman, or man, would you ever be tempted to go up to them and strike up a conversation to see where it leads, be it for a night, afternoon, day, etc.?
Me: uhm no since I’m engaged.
Man: So, there’s definitely no wiggle room? Not even a 5 to 10% chance that you’d let yourself be tempted, because you know, I’d be open to trying.
Me: Definitely not, as I’ve said, I’m engaged and men aren’t my cup of tea
Man: Even after being with some?… well, it doesn’t matter, I love love and I’m very happy for you and to have met you, I like being able to have conversations like this.
Me: uhm no problem sir, it was enlightening talking to you…
Man leans in to kind of give me a one armed hug… I immediately hand my hand out for a handshake and kind of shift my weight away from him.
What I didn’t mention is that he had backtracked on the bike path to come and talk to me, and instead of heading off in the direction he had first been going into, kind of headed off in the direction we were going to go. Thankfully there was a footbridge on the opposite side that I decided to take, just to make sure I didn’t have to cross paths again
A couple of things.
- I didn’t feel physically threatened by this man, although I was quite aware of my surroundings and where my keys and phone were at all times.
- I had my arms crossed across my chest and was standoffish.
- I kept looking at my dog, the bike path, and around.
- I kept my answers as vague and as brief as I could.
My take away:
For a man to be in his mid-forties, hitting on a young woman, and telling her she looks much younger than she actually is, and repeatedly asking her questions that she clearly has no interest in answering and has told you twice that she doesn’t feel comfortable being accosted by strangers, AND TELLING HER TO LET HIM KNOW WHEN TOO MUCH IS TOO MUCH, is exactly why I hate being alone when I’m out and about.
My body can be described as the typical sexy ideal: curvy, heavy in the chest and in the behind. I get catcalled, stopped, and complimented too often and without my consent. I HATE IT. I’ve learnt to dislike my body because I feel shame in putting on revealing clothing because men will stare and notice me in a way that I do not wish to be looked at, ever. I have learnt to feel responsible for their stares and comments, and have, over the years, felt like it was normal to get this negative attention, and that’s the norm, even if I didn’t want it to be. There are days where I really want to wear a cute outfit that makes me feel good, confident and sexy, but I don’t because it will be my own fault if I get looked at in ways that I don’t want to.
Today was a day where I didn’t think it possible, where I felt the safest, in old worn shorts and shirt, messy hair, unshaved legs, and just in my plain don’t bother me outfit. My safety bubble was shattered by this man.
My fiancée sometimes has a hard time understanding why I don’t just walk away and say what’s on my mind when I get stopped by men in moments like this. My answer is simple. I don’t feel safe. I feel safer, having a degrading, demeaning and objectifying conversation with these individuals, than try to ignore them and go on my way because at least I feel in control of the situation.
Once the man left, I immediately got onto the phone with her, and told her about it, and kept my phone in my hand all the way back home. I also had my keys tucked away between my phone and fingers, and was scanning the park and bike path non-stop in case that man doubled back. He had no right to harass me like that, and I had no reason to talk to him and let him talk to me in such a way… but in all honesty, I did have a reason. I want to one day be able to walk my dog without having men, mostly, catcall, stare at me, or come up to me and compliment my dog and try to compliment me.
I DON’T WANT THIS ATTENTION. I don’t want to have to wear clothing that cover all my body parts and all my curves because men feel compelled to compliment me or make sure that I am truly happy with the woman I proposed to because I may have not found the right man to fulfill my every need. None of them seem to understand that WE DON’T WANT THIS. WE DON’T NEED THIS.
In all honesty, I wish my dog was more aggressive because I don’t feel safe when I’m alone.
It is not the first time, nor the last time that this will happen to me, I can promise you that.